Almanac Rugby League – Fish and chips and Friday footy

Don’t you all miss the days of Friday night Fish and Chips wrapped in old newspaper?

Now it is all foam containers that lack anything of mental substance. If they were wrapped in old newspaper, I would be reading a sports section that told of the woes of two seasons. Parramatta and Eastern Suburbs. The Golden Girl is a fan of the new containers but I long for the newspaper. As a kid I would sell the old newspapers (with the odd magazine jammed in for extra weight) to the fish shop for a few cents. This was recycling at its finest.

The Eels attempt to recycle players in 2011 sees them sitting in last spot and Eastern Suburbs (sounds much better than the Roosters) have seen headline after headline in yesterday’s papers about their stars derailing what should have been a stellar season as they languish well below the eight. In fact their position on the ladder flatters the way they have played.

The Eels on the other hand most probably should be higher than they are but the ladder tells no lies, just like yesterday’s newspaper. Both clubs and all their supporters must dream back to the days of Jack Gibson. They were the halcyon days. Beetson, Bunny Reilly and Gracie’s favourite from the 70s, Fairfax,  delivering back to back for the Roosters. And those magical Eels that provided the long suffering faithful four titles in six years, including Gibson’s run of three straight

Gracie has picked up the Old Timer and the Fish and Chips. There is nothing better than a battered piece of the Pacific’s finest flake washed down with an ice cold stubby in mine and the Old Timer’s case, and a crisp NZ white for the Golden Girl.

As a remedy for my nostalgia, the Girl served mine on Wednesdays Courier. Beautiful. I’m not sure if this is an omen but the Tomato Sauce spilt all over the Eastern Suburbs line up. Maybe the spillage was deliberate but I feel Parramatta-tude will come to the fore and Coach Smith’s men may leave without the deep fried delicacy – especially if the reported move of Hayne to fullback and Burt to five-eighth is Coach Kearney’s masterstroke.

A physical encounter opened the match. Local hero Fui Fui made an early mistake after he copped one but made up for it with a tackle that is bound to make the highlight reel. Soon after a Lasalo burst, Hicks ran inside a Hayne pass and a try went begging. The Eels can ill afford any near misses.

The first half has certainly been a willing but relatively dour tussle. Flake was certainly the fare for this match. Both sides had a go but did not really play the football that would suit the purist. The match-up was entertaining and the old adage that a good game is a close game may well put some life into the second half.

The only try of the half was to Hicks in the 35th minute in his 200th game. Hicks has announced his retirement but his try certainly turned the clock back. Gracie was happy as the Eels have worked to a lead. Burt converted and the Eels took the first half 6-0. Coach Kearney will know that given the season the Eels have had, that it is not the sort of buffer he needs.

This season they have led six times at half-time for two wins and a draw. The Roosters on the other hand have been behind 12 times at half-time for two wins. Eels skipper and tyro Nathan Hindmarsh provided double the defence of any other player in a strong first half performance.

The second half started in a similar vein. Both sides were trying to out-muscle the other and Hayne threw another ball that clean bowled Hicks. Another one has got away. The Golden Girl is starting to blow up at the amount of ads Nine is pumping into the program. It is late and Nine are advertising everything from whitegoods to whitepages. I should be happy though as at least it is not The Block.

Possession has moved back in favour of the Eels and that is all the Hayne Train needs to arrive. Short ball from Matua, steps inside one, inside two, runsm swerves inside three, runs to the line and dives in under two others as Parramatta move to 12-0 with the Burt conversion.

Another Eels try could just about shut the gate on the Roosters, however an Eastern Suburbs try would build incredible doubt in the fragile confidence the Eels are showing. There has been clear evidence again how Parramatta lack the halves to put a game to bed. Poor options at the end of their sets continue to hamper and build pressure, which is not abated by their poor kicking game. The Roosters body language is still all about being well and truly in this game.

It may have taken 67 minutes and only a couple of plays deep in the Eels territory but the feeling of safety Parramatta fans may have thought was there has been eroded by a controversial Ryles try and Anasta conversion. With Pearce and Friend starting to combine it is 12 -6 with 10 to go for the Eels.

Tension in the Eels camp has just risen like a fat bloke’s cholesterol after a few potato scallops. More ads- caravans to Camelot. Gracie has had a long day and is ready to blow if Nine throw in any more ads. Oh hang on,Voss is plugging Razor. Safe; Gracie says that’s not an ad.

Situation critical for the Eels. A Takairangi try for the Roosters in the 74th minute and an Anasta conversion. 12-all – here we go.

Boy have we gone. The last four minutes have been all action. Four field goal attempts all missed. A 200m up-and-down the field. Gus Gould speak-wow. This has been all Barramundi. Exhilarating from two sides with nothing to play for looking like they have everything to play for. Jack Gibson sure was special.

Golden point – Parra receive -tackle four, Fui drops the ball inside the 40. Anasta field goal.  All over.  Roosters will end a disappointing season on a high whilst Parramatta will, I expect, play in the Spoon Final against the Titans.

A rare occurrence for the two sides battling for the dreaded wooden piece of cutlery. They will face off for the prize next Saturday night. Gracie says that’s it. We are going to Skilled next Saturday. I’m thinking pies with sauce and beer in a plastic cup already.

Roosters 13 (Tries: Ryles, Takairangi Goals: Anasta 2/2 Field Goals: Anasta 1/4)
Parramatta 12 (
Tries: Hayne, Hicks Goals: Burt 2/2 Field Goals: Burt 0/1)

Venue: Parramatta Stadium
Crowd: 12097
Votes: 3- Hindmarsh 2- Ryles 1- Friend
Milestones: 200th game for Chris Hicks, Nathan Hindmarsh First captain to lose three Golden point games in one season, Parramatta four Golden point games in a season.



About Nick Tedeschi

Nick Tedeschi was the chief rugby league writer at Punting Ace for five years after a career in politics and bookmaking. He has written freelance for a number of organisations including Back Page Lead, Crikey and Betfair and now runs his own website. He writes an annual NRL betting preview and is a diehard Canterbury fan who lists Craig Polla-Mounter, David Stagg, Tony Grimaldi and Daryl Halligan as his favourite players.


  1. The way the EELs have played in the back half of the season I would throw in Pluto Pups, KFC, Pork Belly & Deep fried Mars Bars followed by Viagra chased with Rum & Cola and that’s an indication of the rising blood Pressure the EELs have caused me when following my fortunes in the local footy tipping comp. I am over the EELS!

  2. Alovesupreme says

    An entertaining account, which prompted a couple of responses:
    I’m surprised to hear you say that yesterday’s papers tell no lies; that sounds heart-warmingly innocent. Do they differ from to-days on that dimension?

    A more cynical David Parkin many years ago warned his players against believing what they read in the rags, wtte “you can only trust the date and the price, and they don’t always get those right”.

    The other reference is to our esteemed chief patron, JTH. He once described the technique for doing the form, while nominally preparing dinner – to satisfy the demands of the handicapper. The trick was to open the form guide and drop the potatoes on it, and engage in some perfunctory peeling, while devoting proper attention to an analysis of the gallopers most likely for the folowing day’s events.

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